We run into distractions every other minute. Unless you’ve got genes (more like his work ethic and drive) like Elon Musk you can not expect to have very great work weeks, especially without efficient planning. Elon Musk does double what an average person would do in a very productive week. He even spends 4 days with his 5 children.
But why talk about Musk when we don’t even want to become like him. After all, who wants to plan their day in 5-minute increments? I mean what are we? Robots?
You might not be a robot. You might not even want to become one. But robots get their job done. If you want to see success coming your way you will have to get that job done as well.
As female entrepreneurs, especially someone who is running her business from the comfort (yes comfort) of your home, you are very (read VERY) vulnerable to falling down several rabbit holes. This essentially means falling behind our schedule and not achieving our goals. Sad…(sigh).
You’ve got a home to look after, children to care for, parents to call, friends to treat, neighbors to say hi to, food to cook, laundry to do, dishes to wash and oh we forgot our dear husband. Where on earth do I squeeze out time for my business?
All of this overwhelms you. You sit down and make a plan. Yay! But seeing that plan overwhelms you even more. Now you are overwhelmed because you are overwhelmed.
Relax! I’ve come here with a solution for you all busy babes. We’ll call it time blocking. You can call it time boxing. Whatever suits you.
What is Time Blocking?
Someone once thought it would be very beneficial if they divided their tasks and allotted 40-100 minute chunks of their time to each sub-task. So, if you sit down and write all your tasks in one column and write an estimation of time against every task, you have your time blocks.
Something that looks like this:
Now when you integrate these chunks of time into your daily schedules you become a WondarWoman. You ace your tasks better than how you would otherwise approach them.
Why Time Blocking?
You want less unstructured time for yourself. If every slot of the day has been assigned a task you have less time wondering what you are supposed to do at the moment.
Planning ahead of time gives you a clear mental picture of your most important tasks for the day. You don’t forget important tasks and can sleep in peace knowing you have burnt some night’s oil for your business.
When you know you have limited time you are more mindful of not going down the rabbit hole of procrastination.
You achieve ‘FOCUS’ without having to master Chi. When you stop throwing all your balls in the air and instead focus on just one ball, guess what, it doesn’t miss your hands. And so you leave little to no room for things to slip away.
How to use Time Blocking?
Finally, the interesting part.
Before you start, have some clarity on your objectives. You want:
- Clear defined set of tasks
- Accurately estimated time against each task (more on this later)
- Somewhere to keep this plan
Step #1 List Important Tasks for the day
Prioritize. You need to understand that there is only so much even WondarWoman can do. So, list your top 3 tasks for your blog or business for the day. These are your top priority. Once you achieve them you can use the rest of your time for the preceding tasks.
Step #2 Estimate Time for each Task
We, humans, are poor at estimating our times. Unless it’s something we do on a regular basis. When starting your business you might not be fully aware of how much time a certain task is going to take you.
So, what we end up doing is overestimating. Yes, we make super optimistic (even more optimistic than our lives) predictions about our tasks. We don’t even leave room for some time to show a reaction to interruptions (more on this later).
The best way out is to keep a track of how much it usually takes you to accomplish a task. For instance, keep a track of time in and time out when you are writing a blog post. This way you will start to see your trend over the course of time. Eventually, you can estimate your time better.
Never ever ever plan for the ideal case. You have a life outside of your business, remember? You have a home office, remember? Your kids might just decide to put all your Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation on themselves just for fun right in the middle of your client meeting. You might just need to make an awkward excuse because you might just save the last 4-5mls for your dinner date. Phew!
Step #3 Put it in your Schedule
Now that you have a list of tasks and a list of the estimated time for each task, it’s time to put all this in your daily schedule. Until this point, if you are into business and do not make any written/visual plans for your day, what are you doing woman???
You could do it on a whiteboard, on a good old piece of paper or if you are a bit too tech-savvy, get an app for it.
You will have to get the whiteboard for yourself. Don’t forget to buy some erasable markers with it.
I can help you with a weekly/daily Time Blocking Planner for FREE!
A few apps to help you out would be:
- Google Sheets/ Microsoft Excel
- Do Now for Android Users
- Trello for everyone [Read: Create a Visual Content Calendar for your blog or Business]
Well, there are some shortcomings of trying to get into the habit of using time blocking for your blog or business. Although many successful people can swear by this method, it comes with some limitations.
- You will have to work really hard to plan your day well, estimate your time accurately and then follow the plan accordingly. There are distractions. There is your friend ‘procrastination’. You might have some uninvited guests over (anxiety, frustration, fear, and doubts). With sound practice, you can achieve mastery.
- Interruptions are there and they will be. As if you, yourself, weren’t enough of a problem, there are people and things out there that don’t appreciate you and focus together. Plan but keep room for these interruptions. Learn to combat them. If you can’t, and they are unavoidable, then revise your plan and get going. Don’t fall behind just because the doorbell rang and there was no one there.
- Don’t eat up all your time, leave some for fun and food as well. You might feel the temptation to overschedule your time. AVOID! Red Flag Girl! Red Flag! It’s a sure short way of fooling you into overwhelm. Remember always staying busy doesn’t always mean productive time. The more you try to do the less you actually have.
So, plan smart and work smarter!
Salam! (Peace <3)